The battle for the Florida state Senate seat currently held by term-limited Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, is heating up as the two leading Republicans in the race unveiled major endorsements on Monday.
Tony Boselli, best know for his stellar career as an offensive linesman for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL, is growing more active politically on the First Coast and, on Monday, he endorsed former Rep. Aaron Bean in an interesting GOP primary for a state Senate seat. Besides remaining active in the community and helping the Jaguars reach out to fans, Boselli works for lobbying powerhouse Ballard Partners.
With Bean having been based in Nassau County during his years as a state representative and as mayor of Fernandina Beach, he is not as well-known in populous Duval County where his opponent for the Republican nomination -- Rep. Mike Weinstein, R-Jacksonville -- is well-established having run for mayor of Jacksonville twice. Susie Wiles from Ballard Partners -- best known for her role on Rick Scott's 2010 gubernatorial campaign -- is behind Weinstein.
On Monday, Boselli played up what Bean can do in Tallahassee for Jacksonville residents.
“Aaron is the conservative candidate we need to represent Jacksonville in the Florida Senate,” said Boselli. “Aaron knows the importance of strengthening education and creating jobs for our local communities. He has a proven track record of effective, fiscally responsible leadership in Tallahassee.”
“I thank Tony for his support of my campaign,” said Bean. “Every community deserves a solid foundation of quality jobs, quality education and quality of life, so that future generations will thrive and continue to be proud of Northeast Florida. As a father of three children, I know that Tallahassee must put education first so that our children have the tools to succeed. As a small-business owner, I understand what it takes to run a business and keep our neighbors employed. I am a community servant with the passion and vision to make a positive difference for my district and state.”
While Bean looks to raise his profile in Jacksonville, Weinstein is well-established in the Bold New City of the South with an extensive resume in Jacksonville politics. Besides his two mayoral bids, he served as director of the city Administration and Finance Department under Mayor Ed Austin, a Democrat, and Republican Mayor John Delaney. Weinstein served as president and CEO of the Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee and as executive director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission. He also put in 15 years in the state attorney’s office on the First Coast.
Weinstein unveiled an endorsement of his own on Monday when he announced the support of one of the leading social conservatives in the Legislature -- Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Palatka. Van Zant represents all of Putnam County and parts of Bradford, Clay, Lake, Marion and Volusia counties in the House.
“As a native of Jacksonville, I have discovered Mike Weinstein to be the Legislature's most profound voice for North Florida,” said Van Zant. “He stands with integrity on every issue and does not waver as he represents each segment of Duval and Nassau counties. In my service as vice chair of the Criminal Justice Policy Committee, it is Mike's voice of reason that is always heard setting policy to solve North Florida's horrific crime problem. On taxes and business, it is Mike's ideas and support that are lessening business regulation and lowering taxes. Mike is dedicated to protecting the sanctity of life and the rights of the unborn. He protects our family values and stands with his votes to do so.
"On education, Mike is a powerhouse and has stood alone many times to protect our local schools and our teachers from encroachment by the Department of Education in their efforts to usurp authority from our local elected officials. Duval and Nassau counties need Mike Weinstein to continue their cause in the Florida Senate and present their interests more than ever. He is the only person running for this seat that has a proven record of lessening the size and scope of government. I sincerely hope the people of Duval and Nassau counties will stand with their man of integrity.”
“It is an honor to have the endorsement of Representative Van Zant,” Weinstein said. “His commitment to protecting the sanctity of life and promoting conservative family values is a huge asset to our community and I look forward to working with him again next year in the Florida Legislature.”
Former Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, distinguished visiting scholar in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and director of the Public Service Program at the University of North Florida, was named president of the Connect U.S. Fund, an alliance of foundations working to promote foreign-policy agenda characterized by international cooperation and progressive ideas.
The winner of the Republican primary will face two write in-candidates and Democratic candidate Soderberg, who worked in the Clinton administration. She served as an alternate representative to the United Nations and on the National Security Council as deputy assistant to the president for National Security Affairs.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com or at (850) 727-0859.